Siege of Menin, 27-30 April 1794

The siege of Menin (27-30 April 1794) was an early French victory during their campaign in maritime Flanders in the spring of 1794. At the start of 1794 the French planned to attack at both ends of the long Allied front line in the Austrian Netherlands, with the main effort coming at the west of the line. This part of the Allied line was defended by the Austrian General Clerfayt, who had his headquarters at Tournai, while the main Allied effort in the spring was directed towards Landrecies, near the centre of the line.

The French offensive began on 24 April, when three armies invaded Belgium, starting from Dunkirk, Cassel and Lille. The force from Cassel, 21,000 men under General Moreau, advanced to Ypres. Moreau then left part of his force to blockade Ypres, and moved on to attack Menin

The defences of Menin had been somewhat improved since the two battles of 1793 (13 September and 15 September), but the town was only defended by 2,000 troops, most of them Hanoverians but including a number of French exiles, all under the command of Count Hammerstein.

On 28 April Marshal Clerfeyt reached Mouscron, bringing the number of troops there up to 10,000. He was planning to attempt to lift the siege on 30 April, but on 29 April he was attacked by Generals Souham and Bertin, and suffered a heavy defeat.

Once Clerfeyt had been defeated, it was clear to the defenders of Menin that they could not hope for rescue. The French exiles were aware that they could expect no mercy from the attackers, and so the garrison decided to cut its way out. On the night of 30 April, lead by Colonel Hammerstein, the 2,000 troops in the garrison fought their way through the French lines and escaped to Thourout, and then Bruges.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 January 2009), Siege of Menin, 27-30 April 1794 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/siege_menin_1794.html

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